By-election to NA-107 today
A test case for PPP, PML-Q and PML-N
From Muhammad Rafi Bhatti
LALAMUSA: A tough contest is expected between Chaudhry Rehman Naseer Marala, the joint candidates of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) Malik Hanif Awan in the by-election to NA-107, which fell vacant after the disqualification of former MNA Malik Jamil Awan for having dual nationality.
Pir Mubashir is a candidate of the Sunni Ittehad, while Nadeem Ashiq Awan is an independent candidate. There are 402,898 registered voters, including 221,502 men and 181,398 women. As many as 281 polling stations and 760 polling booths have been set up for the by-election to be held on December 4 (today). Gujrat DCO Nawazish Ali has also announced a public holiday in Sara-i-Alamgir and Kharian. Stringent security arrangements have been made on the occasion.
The two constituencies – PP-115 and PP-114 – fall under NA-107. Chaudhry Muhammad Arshad, brother the late provincial law minister Chaudhry Farooq, is the MPA from PP-114 while Chaudhry Irfanuddin backed by the Kotla Group is the MPA from PP-115. The Chaudhrys of Gujrat and the Kaira brothers are vigorously canvassing for Marala. However, PPP workers are not pleased with Marala who deserted the PPP by joining the PML-Q.
Pundits are of the view that the by-election is a matter of great importance for the PPP and the PML-Q ahead of the general elections and both the parties are taking it a test case. In the previous elections, Marala was defeated by PML-N’s Raja Naeem Nawaz who has now joined the PTI. He is likely to support the joint candidate of the PML-Q and the PPP. However, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Qamar Zaman Kaira has not addressed any public meeting during the electioneering. He, however, had urged the people to vote for the candidates having good character, not for those who deceive their voters.
PML-N’s Malik Hanif Awan is being considered a strong candidate as he was elected MPA from Sara-i-Alamgir during the Musharraf rule. Later, he did not contest the previous elections and fielded his relative Malik Jamil Awan who won the seat after defeating the PML-Q and PPP candidate by thousands of votes. Later, he was disqualified for having dual nationality. Malik Hanif Awan is very close to the PML-N leadership because he supported the party even during the exile of the Sharif brothers. The Kotla Group backed by Chaudhry Abid Raza and MPA Chaudhry Irfanuddin had supported the PML-N candidate in the last elections. It had difference with Malik Hanif Awan and the Kotla Group. Pundits claim Awan will lose the by-election if the Kotla Group did not support him.
Meanwhile, MNA Hamza Sharif recently visited the constituency and convinced the Kotla Group to support the PML-N candidate. On the other hand, Syed Noorul Hassan, brother of former MNA Syed Manzoor Shah and the traditional opponent of the Kaira bothers in NA-106, is supporting the PML-N candidate. Pundits predict high turnout due to people’s response to the by-election.
Protest against power disconnection
From Our Correspondent
LALAMUSA: Residents of Railway Colony on Monday protested against disconnection of power supply to their locality for the last five days. The protesters, including women and children, held the demonstration at the railway station. They stopped a train for 10 minutes at the railway station. In the meantime, the railway administration and police reached the spot and assured the protesters that power supply would be restored today (Tuesday). The Gepco had disconnected power supply to the colony due to non-payment of bills about five days ago.